OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 19

Panama Covid-19 update – gender-based days for next 2 weeks from Monday (men allowed out 0500-1900, women the next), as medical authorities say a 14-day lockdown needed to curb the spread of the virus.

The numbers continue to worry, and justify the tightened controls over the holiday period, with 3,274 new cases and 23 new fatalities. There are now 34,312 active cases, with 182 people in ICU and 1,533 in other wards.

19 NOVEMBER 2020

ONE OF BULGARIA’S MOST POWERFUL BUSINESSMEN HIRES TOP WASHINGTON LOBBY FIRM AMID ACCUSATIONS HE IS UNDERMINING DEMOCRACY AND INFLAMING CORRUPTION 

On 19 December, Rferl reported that Delyan Peevski, a media mogul and lawmaker, has hired BGR Group, Washington’s third-largest lobbying firm by revenue, to help him with “issues in the US”.  Peevski’s lobbying effort comes on the heels of a critical report about his influence in Bulgaria and shortly before a new administration that has promised to address democracy failings and corruption among allies takes power in Washington.

https://www.rferl.org/a/bulgaria-s-oligarch-in-chief-taps-washington-lobby-firm-following-critical-report/31008716.html

US CONGRESS CREATES ENHANCED WHISTLEBLOWER PROGRAMME FOR AML VIOLATIONS

An article from Morgan Lewis on 18 December reported that the US Senate has passed the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on December 11, 2020. As part of the NDAA, Congress included sweeping AML reforms that strengthen the country’s financial crimes monitoring system. The Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (AMLA) is a wide-ranging reform effort that seeks to modernise the country’s AML regime, including by providing enhanced rewards and protections for whistleblowers who come forward with potential violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA).

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/congress-creates-enhanced-whistleblower-23163/

UK GOVERNMENT RELEASES 2025 BORDER STRATEGY DOCUMENT

On 18 December, BIFA announced that on 17 December, the UK Government released its 2025 Border Strategy document, which outlines its intentions for modernising the UK frontier. It says that in many ways the document builds on the work done by the Border Protocol Delivery Group and the 2 editions of the Border Operating Model.

https://www.bifa.org/news/articles/2020/dec/government-releases-2025-border-strategy-document?l=y

DANSKE SAYS US TREASURY ENDS ESTONIA PROBE WITH NO ACTION

On 19 December, BNN Bloomberg reported that Danske Bank A/S said OFAC has closed its investigation of the lender’s Estonian money laundering case with no action.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/danske-says-u-s-treasury-unit-ends-estonia-probe-with-no-action-1.1538832

US CHARGES A KENYAN MEMBER OF THE AL QAEDA-AFFILIATED TERRORIST GROUP AL SHABAAB

On 18 December, Jurist reported that the US DoJ has charged Cholo Abdi Abdullah with 6 counts of terrorism-related crimes.  He is said to have sought pilot training by enrolling in a flight school in the Philippines and, by 2019, he had earned his pilot’s license, continuing to research means of hijacking a plane and searching for potential US buildings to target. He was detained by law enforcement in the Philippines in July 2019. 

https://www.jurist.org/news/2020/12/us-prosecutors-indict-al-qaeda-affiliated-kenyan-national/

https://www.lawfareblog.com/did-al-shabaab-attempt-911-style-aircraft-attack-targeting-united-states

ECJ RULES THAT WARRANTS ISSUED BY POLISH JUDGES MUST BE ENFORCED BY OTHER MEMBER NATIONS

On 18 December, the Jurist reported that the European Court of Justice has held that warrants issued by Polish judges must be enforced by other Member States despite concerns of systemic and generalised issues of judicial independence.  A court in the Netherlands had doubts about whether it should comply with the warrant since the Polish judiciary system was in the midst of reform. 

https://www.jurist.org/news/2020/12/ecj-rules-other-nations-must-enforce-warrants-from-poland-judges/

IRAN SAYS IT HAS SIGNED CONTRACTS TO EXPORT ARMS

On 18 December, Eurasia Review reported that the Iranian Defense Minister has unveiled plans for the export of homegrown weapons under new contracts with a number of foreign countries.

https://www.eurasiareview.com/18122020-iran-says-it-has-signed-contracts-to-export-arms/

VIDEO: UPDATE ON CBD – DRUG OR FOOD?

On 18 December, a 16-minute video report from Osborne Clark was concerned with the latest developments in CBD and food including the implications of the KannaVape case and the UN CND vote on the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

https://www.osborneclarke.com/insights/update-cbd-drug-food/

WHAT IS RUSSIA’S INTEREST IN LIBYA?

An article in defence in Depth poses this question following a US report which accuses the UAE of providing financial support to Wagner, the Russian private military contractor (PMC), which is operating in Libya, with about 2,000 personnel there.  The Russian Air Force also has a presence.  The article argues that Russia is likely seeking permanent bases in Libya. 

https://defenceindepth.co/2020/12/17/what-is-russias-interest-in-libya-from-regional-influence-to-hunting-nato-submarines/

UK: INFORMATION COMMISSIONER PUBLISHES NEW DATA-SHARING CODE OF PRACTICE

On 18 December, the Local Government Lawyer reported that the Data Sharing Code is intended to guide practitioners through the practical steps they need to take to share data while protecting people’s privacy.  The ICO also intends for the new code to make it easy for individuals, businesses and organisations to share data in a fair, safe and transparent way.

https://www.localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/information-law/398-information-law-news/45701-information-commissioner-publishes-new-data-sharing-code-of-practice

The Code is at –

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-sharing-a-code-of-practice/

IRISH FIRMS WARNED OVER FITNESS AND PROBITY COMPLIANCE

On 18 December, an article from out-Law said that financial firms in Ireland are yet to sufficiently step up compliance with ‘fitness and probity’ rules following an earlier review by the Central Bank of Ireland, the regulator has warned.

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/news/irish-firms-fitness-probity-compliance

UK GAMBLING ACT REVIEW EXPECTED TO SPUR REFORM

On 18 December, an article from Out-Law said that the Government must be careful not to drive British consumers to unregulated gambling markets by imposing overly strict constraints on regulated providers of online gambling services.  The Government has opened a new review into the Gambling Act 2005 earlier this month, outlining its intention to ensure that the legislation is “fit for the digital age”.

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/news/gambling-act-review-expected-reform

UK CORRUPTION ENFORCEMENT TRACKER

On 18 December. Simmons & Simmons has published a tracker which reviews UK action by prosecution authorities over corruption offences.  It reminds one that there are a number of authorities who are charged with the investigation and prosecution of corruption offences in the UK.  These include the CPS, SFO, FCA, NCA and Scotland’s Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (aka the Crown Office).  It says that while there has been a considerable amount of corruption enforcement activity in recent years, only a limited number of prosecutions have been brought under the Bribery Act 2010; and perception of the effectiveness of the legislation varies greatly. 

https://assets.contentstack.io/v3/assets/blt3de4d56151f717f2/bltb08e5024fa3056bf/5fdc9d64396e65084a9e5bb1/2020.12.18_Corruption_enforcement_tracker45351887v12.pdf

SETTLING INTERNATIONAL DISPUTES – NEW GLOBAL RULES HELP PARTIES ENFORCE AGREED TERMS

On 18 December, Clyde & Co published an article about the Singapore Mediation Convention, which has recently come into force, establishing a global set of rules that parties can rely on if enforcement is an issue. It only covers settlement achieved through mediation.  For the moment it applies only to t3hree countries (Fiji, Qatar and Singapore), but as more countries join it says it will prove a useful tool for resolving a wide range of international disputes.  It should also encourage the use of formal mediation procedures in countries where they are not currently the norm.

https://www.clydeco.com/en/insights/2020/12/settling-international-disputes-new-global-rules-h

BRANDING VIETNAM A “CURRENCY MANIPULATOR” EPITOMISES WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE CONCEPT

On 16 December, a Paper from the Petersen Institute for International Economics says that the designation may well have been consistent with the criteria set out in the 2015 law updating the US approach to currency manipulation, but this designation is a substantive mistake when it comes to Vietnam and an illustration of the broader problems with the concept of currency manipulation.

https://www.piie.com/blogs/realtime-economic-issues-watch/branding-vietnam-currency-manipulator-epitomizes-whats-wrong

HOW IMPORTANT IS THE GROWING SIZE OF CONTAINER VESSELS?

On 3 December, a paper from Port technology addressed this question.

https://wpassets.porttechnology.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/26151243/012-013_PTI103_Kris_v2.pdf

MEXICO: DIRECTOR OF HSBC – DRUG LAUNDERING OF 2012 COULD BE REPEATED WITH REFORM TO BANXICO LAW

On 16 December, Infobase carried an article containing this warning as the Finance and Public Credit Committee of the Chamber of Deputies convened an extraordinary session to discuss the dispute over the reform of the Law of the Bank of Mexico.  There was another warning that a law change could turn Mexico into a magnet for laundering (again).

https://www.infobae.com/america/mexico/2020/12/16/director-de-hsbc-advirtio-que-lavado-de-dinero-del-narco-en-2012-podria-repetirse-con-la-reforma-a-ley-de-banxico/

INDIA: CBI UNEARTHS ANOTHER GIGANTIC BANK FRAUD

On 18 December, ABP Live reported that it is alleged by the CBI that the private firm based in Hyderabad and its directors had availed credit facilities on multiple banking arrangements. The CBI has charged Hyderabad-based Transstroy (India) Limited and its directors for alleged bank fraud in a consortium led by Canara Bank.

https://news.abplive.com/business/cbi-books-hyderabad-transstroy-ltd-for-rs-7926-crore-bank-fraud-bigger-nirav-modi-1415465

AUSTRALIA: CANBERRA LAW FIRM BACKS PARTNERS ARRESTS ON MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES

On 18 December, ABC News reported that one of Canberra’s top law firms has publicly backed 2 of its legal partners after they were charged with money laundering offences.  A 54-year-old accountant was also arrested and charged, though his name has not yet been made public.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-12-18/aulich-law-firm-backs-partners-amid-money-laundering-allegations/12997556

DISRUPTING SERIOUS AND ORGANISED CRIME: WHAT ROLE FOR UK SANCTIONS?

On 18 December, an article from RUSI says that the potential to use sanctions against serious and organised crime has attracted growing attention. To add value, any move in this direction requires a clear strategy as to how sanctions would complement existing law enforcement tools.  Recent months have seen the government take concrete steps in pursuit of its vision of an ambitious, independent sanctions regime outside the EU, with human rights abuses sanctions introduced.  It says that some point to the US record using the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act) to illustrate the potential effectiveness of using the sanctions regime against those involved in crime.

https://shoc.rusi.org/informer/disrupting-serious-and-organised-crime-what-role-uk-sanctions

NORWAY PROPOSED ACT TO ALIGN WITH EU HUMAN RIGHTS SANCTIONS

On 19 December, the EU Sanctions blog reported that the Norwegian government has submitted a proposed sanctions Act that would allow the government to align itself with and implement the EU’s designations of individuals and entities under the new global human rights sanctions regime 

https://www.regjeringen.no/en/aktuelt/eu_hr_sanctions/id2815142/

BRITAIN PLANS TO RIVAL SINGAPORE WITH SHIP REGISTRY REVAMP

On 19 December, the Hellenic Shipping News reported that Britain is drawing up plans to turn London into a rival of Singapore as a hub for shipping companies to register vessels after the Brexit transition period.  Industry bodies and unions have been canvassed over the reform of the shipping industry’s so-called tonnage tax next year, when the UK is no longer subject to the EU state aid regime on subsidies.  The shipping and wider maritime industry employs more than 200,000 people and contributes over £46 billion a year to the British economy, according to the UK Chamber of Shipping. Among the plans being discussed is enabling floating production storage and offloading vessels and drilling rigs to be included in the British tonnage tax regime in order to give Britain a competitive advantage over current EU regulations.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/britain-plans-to-rival-spore-with-ship-registry-revamp/

NO POST-BREXIT CHAOS IF CUSTOMS PAPERWORK DONE PROPERLY, SAYS CALAIS PORT CHIEF

On 19 December, Hellenic Shipping News reported that France’s busiest road freight port, is ready for the return of customs formalities on trade moving between Britain and the EU and will avoid chaotic queues of trucks if businesses follow procedures, according to its chief executive.  However, it is said that French customs officials acknowledge they have no idea how many companies from Portugal in Europe’s west to Romania and Poland in the east will be prepared to confront the wall of bureaucracy to move across the new hard border.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/no-post-brexit-chaos-if-customs-paperwork-done-properly-says-calais-port-chief/

US BITCOIN TRADER PLEADS GUILTY TO AIDING ROMANCE AND LOTTERY SCAMS LAUNDER OVER $600,000

On 19 December, ZyCrypto reported that Austin Nedved from Massachusetts has been charged with knowingly laundering $630,000 in proceeds from victims of romance and lottery scams via decentralised exchanges.  He admitted to having been working with the romance and lottery scams between 2017 and 2019, targeting the most vulnerable victims including elderly people.

https://zycrypto.com/us-bitcoin-trader-pleads-guilty-to-aiding-romance-and-lottery-scams-launder-over-600k/

NEW ZEALAND – OPERATION BROOKINGS: POLICE INVESTIGATION INTO ALLEGED MONEY LAUNDERING SYNDICATE 

In its 20 December edition, Stuff reported on the case against Xiaoyu Lu, with police alleging his business was laundering money derived from other’s drug dealing and, in addition to acquiring expensive assets, they claim he transferred $24 million cash into bank accounts he controlled in China.  In October, 6 people were arrested police and seized more than $5 million in assets including a $420,000 Lamborghini Huracan and 6 other luxury cars, 3 properties worth at least $3.3 million, and Lu’s boat.  Lu told police his income came from selling Bitcoin, from his parents in China and personal savings.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/123763970/inside-operation-brookings-the-police-investigation-into-an-alleged-money-laundering-syndicate

DEFENCE CONTRACTOR PLEADS GUILTY TO ILLEGALLY SELLING CHINESE-MANUFACTURED BODY ARMOUR AND OTHER PRODUCTS TO US FEDERAL AGENCIES

On 19 December, AP reported that Arthur Morgan, 67, of Lorton, Virginia, CEO of Surveillance Equipment Group Inc, which had government contracts to supply federal agencies with ballistic vests, helmets, riot gear and other items 2014-19.  Morgan falsely certified that products he was selling were from Hong Kong and the US when he knew that he was providing goods made in China.

https://apnews.com/article/government-contracts-maryland-china-hong-kong-d92e87d1663de43489ffb86bb9d35280

I had omitted the following link (as it did not seem to generate much interest!), but it seemed time to add it again and say that, if you would like to make a (polite) gesture and help me with my removal and computer costs, I have a page at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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